Physicists at The City College of New York (CCNY) have used atomically thin two-dimensional materials to realize an array of on-demand quantum emitters operating at room temperature that can be integrated into next-generation quantum-communication systems. CCNY professors Carlos Meriles and Vinod Menon and their colleagues used hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) placed on nanopillars to demonstrate single-photon emission at the pillar locations.
In simplest terms, the breakthrough allows one to know where the single-photon emitters are located. Single-photon emitters are essential building blocks for next-generation quantum communication and computing protocols as they can be used as a quantum bit (qubit). The current breakthrough has solved a long-standing and practical hurdle of realizing deterministic single-photon emitters at room temperature. Previously, very low temperatures were necessary or the photons were hard to extract using other materials such as diamond, notes Menon. And, if single-photon emission did occur at room temperature, it happened at random locations.